Olympic champion Zverev thrown out of Acapulco tournament after tantrum

The 24-year-old defending champion smashed his racquet three times just below umpire Alessandro Germani’s feet before taking his seat and then rising again to verbally abuse the official and smash the chair one last time



Germany's Alexander Zverev. — AP
Germany's Alexander Zverev. — AP

Published: Wed 23 Feb 2022, 10:26 PM

German Olympic tennis champion Alexander Zverev has been expelled from the Mexican Open in Acapulco after smashing his racquet on the umpire’s chair several times and directing a foul-mouthed rant at the official, the ATP announced Wednesday.

“Due to unsportsmanlike conduct at the conclusion of his doubles match on Tuesday night, Alexander Zverev has been withdrawn from the tournament in Acapulco,” the governing body for men’s tennis tweeted.

Zverev — ranked No.3 in the world — lost his cool when he and doubles partner Marcelo Melo of Brazil were beaten 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 by Britain’s Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliövaara of Finland.

The 24-year-old defending champion smashed his racquet three times just below umpire Alessandro Germani’s feet before taking his seat and then rising again to verbally abuse the official and smash the chair one last time.

He had apparently been irked by a line call during the match.

Zverev had been involved in a marathon first-round singles clash with American Jenson Brooksby that had finished early Tuesday morning — the latest-ever finish to a professional tennis match.

Zverev saved two match points before completing a 3-6, 7-6 (12/10), 6-2 win at 4:54 am local time.

The first-round tie at the ATP event lasted three hours and 19 minutes.

Zverev’s mood may have been affected by fatigue after another long match in the doubles defeat, but he nevertheless risks further punishment from the ATP.

“If the Senior Vice President Rules & Competition determines that the default was particularly injurious to the success of the tournament or detrimental to the integrity of the sport, he may consider additional penalties (fines and/or suspensions),” reads the ATP rule book.

Zverev is no stranger to controversy — he is still being investigated by the ATP over allegations he was violent towards a former girlfriend.

He has repeatedly denied the claims.

In June 2020, he was heavily criticised after being seen partying in a bar, when he had promised to self-isolate for two weeks, following his competing in a tournament organised by Djokovic in front of spectators flying in the face of medical advice on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several players including Djokovic contracted Covid-19.

Zverev’s expulsion is a relatively rare occurrence on the men’s circuit.

The famously temperamental John McEnroe was disqualified from the 1990 Australian Open for insulting the umpire as was Argentinian David Nalbandian in the 2012 Queen’s final for kicking out and unintentionally connecting with a line judge.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the 2020 US Open for having by accident rather than design hit a lineswoman.

Others to fall foul of officials were maverick Australian Nick Kyrgios expelled from the Rome tournament in 2019 for throwing a chair and Canada’s Denis Shapovalov was defaulted in the Davis Cup tie with Britain in 2017 after inadvertently hitting the umpire in the face with a ball.

Zverev’s tantrum was not the only notable incident on Tuesday in a tournament that has attracted world No.2 Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal, who beat the Russian in an epic Australian Open final to become the record holder for Grand Slam singles titles with 21.

Australian John Millman had to retire from his match after being hit in the eye by a ball as he tried to hit it over his head.

The 32-year-old made light of it later in an Instragram post with a patch over the eye that had been hurt and the tag “Always got to watch the ball.”


More news from Sports